Employer Spotlight: LUNAR, San Francisco
They're like a huge family that happens to create beautiful, ingenious and charismatic products together. LUNAR has been at the forefront of product design innovation since 1984 and they're still growing, so I asked Jeff Salazar, Vice President of Design at LUNAR, how he builds such impressive teams, what it's like to be a LUNARite and what question he likes asking prospective employees.
What's it like to work at LUNAR?
Jeff Salazar: LUNAR prides itself on having retained its 'family' feel; we've just gotten a bit bigger over the years. Each day is a new one â€“ our teams are always pushing to explore and discover new approaches and processes that lead to unique and impactful creative results. At LUNAR, not only do you respect the immense talent your co-workers employ, you actually enjoy spending time with them outside of the studio. There are no judgments; we all feel encouraged to succeed in our individual and collective efforts, and inspired to always be at the peak of our creative edges.
One of our senior industrial designers thought this pretty much sums it up:
What do LUNAR employees look forward to the most when they arrive at work each day?
JS: LUNARites thrive off of the opportunity to learn and practice something new. Whether it's sharpening technical chops, being challenged by an unfamiliar project category, or being encouraged to find new ways to present our work; at LUNAR, it's never a dull moment...and sky's the limit when it comes to the possibilities for all to engage in continuing to make LUNAR an amazing place to work.
No matter how busy our designers or engineers get, LUNAR's work environment supports and nurtures the individual. At LUNAR, we all have the freedom to dream of what the future might look like and inject our personal perspective into the ever evolving brand conversation.
What is your favorite question to ask potential hires?
JS: As clichÃ© as it sounds, one of my favorite questions to ask is, "what inspires you and why?" This tends to open up a dialogue that usually gives me insight into a designer's unique point of view. I also prefer to probe on what's been learned from failures; and believe me, the resulting conversations are often the most fascinating ones.
What's the most interesting/unique thing/object/feature I will find at a LUNAR office?
JS: It's hard to pick only oneâ€¦
The entrance to our San Francisco is entirely unique. We call this the "tunnel of light", and like to think of it as a way to signal a transition into a different way of creative doing. When we landed in our space a couple of years back, we found it a compelling solution to juxtapose the raw brick and timber historic space with a dramatically proportioned contemporary artifact that symbolizes our ongoing commitment thinking differently while remaining grounded and extremely relevant.
There's also our communal workspace we call the "Farm Table." It was formed organically, out of our designers' desire to work informally and collaboratively. We consider our space to be continually in 'beta'; its life and posture is determined and driven by the ever-changing dynamics and needs of those who actually use the space on a daily basis.
The moonman, LUNAR's "mascot," is an object close to our hearts. There's loads of history behind his creationâ€¦ and plenty of intriguing stories to go along with the many facets of his existence. He symbolizes that we don't take ourselves too seriously, and that having fun is a key aspect to creatively thriving at LUNAR.
What's the first thing you recognize in a potential hire that tells you they'll be a great fit at LUNAR?
JS: When meeting with a potential industrial design hire, I always look for a body of work that shows a distinct point of view. I am looking for the ability for that candidate to clearly articulate their story. This can take many forms, but most importantly, I'm looking to be surprised, inspired, and delighted by unique process, perspective, and product.
I recognize early when a candidate has a deep-seeded desire to creatively stand out. At LUNAR, I appreciate when potential employees bring a palpable eagerness to inspire, learn, and contribute, and authentically want to grow with the company.
And, if you happen to be wearing a sweet pair of shoes...we'll definitely take notice.
What is the most creative portfolio you've ever received?
JS: Send us yours and we'll find out ?
JS: We're always looking for strong designers. We want people that want us. Candidates that come to us shouldn't just want to work for any award-winning design firm; they want to work for LUNAR. We set the creative bar high, and expect inspired work that reaches above and beyond expectation. We seek limitless creative energy, and provide an environment where those with initiative and perspective can thrive. A distinctive point of view and the ability to tell a compelling story are essential. We want to see a body of work with depth and a creative soul. If this sounds like you â€“ check out our current openings.
Does LUNAR offer any "above and beyond" benefits?
JS: Outside of competitive salary, an awesome vacation policy and your standard medical and 401k policy, we have a fully stocked kitchen with all sorts of treats, a parking garage for those coming in from outside of San Francisco, and special LUNAR bucks that provide peer recognition for spectacular work. We also have many team lunches, after work SNAX and your run-of-the-mill nerf gun battles. Then there's "Moonshine". It's our 'pre-Google' personal passion practice that's been active at LUNAR since the early 90's. It's an ongoing process of original discursive thinking and unique approach to exploring creative boundaries.
What are LUNAR employees most proud of for working there?
JS: LUNARites are most proud of the tight knit team and the uniquely beautiful and charismatic products we create. We're also proud of LUNAR's prestige and deep history. We have a constantly evolving perspective and strive to break through new boundaries each day. Our team is proud of the diversity of skill and deep technical knowledge we bring to any project. We just recently accepted the Gold award for our cycle trainer VELA at the IDSA Conference this past month, as well as a Gold IF concept award for in collaboration with a global electronics manufacturer â€“ and are honored to continually be recognized for our work. Above all, I think we're proud of our ability to retain our awesome talent. We have strong invested leadership that places focus on nurturing our employees and bringing out the best in each individual.
Why should designers at the top of their games work at LUNAR instead of your competition?
JS: There is something very special about the LUNAR heritage and family â€“ there is a bond amongst the team, veterans and newcomers alike. We appreciate and nurture personal passions. We continue to attract the best clients with interesting and life changing projects. But in the end, we are not about 'selling' LUNAR to potential candidates; the difference just has to be experienced...it's beyond words.
Does LUNAR organize any events or outings as a group to keep everyone inspired and on the cutting edge?
JS: We have events happening all of the time. The team frequently ventures to local museum exhibits or conferences to keep the creative juices flowing. We also have our bi-annual offsites, a time to formally set the objectives and vision of LUNAR with the team. We host a number of parties through the year â€“ from our LEGENDARY Halloween bash to our holiday soirÃ©e, to keep the energy up and remember we also like to have some fun! In addition, we give back to our community through food drives and community service activities.